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Photographing Glass

Photography as an art highly depends on one’s ability to think outside the box. Creativity might be the extra edge needed to capture the true beauty of an object. Of the many obstacles associated with this field, photographing glass ranks high.   This may be because glass is highly reflective and transparent/translucent.

The ability to take a glass object out of its ordinary form in order to captivate your audiences’ attention calls for creativity and skill. Some of the few studios that manage to perfectly capture a glass object usually have a complex set up where reflections are controlled.

The lighting equipment used in this case is high-tech and unfortunately, not accessible to most photographers. However, there are certainly known tweaks that can help you perfect your glass photography skills even when using a low megapixel camera.

Choosing background colors

Did you know that the background can determine the quality of the image that you take? You can take a picture of a wine glass on both a pure white background as well as a black background setting yet manage to capture the beauty of each one. The technique necessary for these two settings is known as the white-line and the black-line lighting. These two techniques are applied at the edges of the glass which contrast with the color of the background.

A white outline is suitable for a black background. The light, in this case, is placed above and behind the glass object. Diffusion panels or softboxes are used to emphasize the transparency of the glass, black and white acrylic panels to bring focus to the bottom reflection and black and white cardboard to create an outline of the edges.

images by sekonic

What’s the alternatives?

Having a studio with the necessary equipment to facilitate these effects is an advantage. However, this does not mean that you cannot achieve this effect. There are certain alternatives that you can use. These include; white cardboard, 2 flashes with diffusers, a trigger to fire the diffusers, and also 2 identical glasses.

Procedure

Clean the glass

A clear image will show even the smallest speck of dirt. In this case, thoroughly clean the glass using glass cleaning fluid and a paper towel. The fluid will clean out smudges and spots. Compressed air will come in handy in getting rid of specks of dust. Once an area is cleaned, avoid touching it as you will leave smudges of fingerprints so start wiping from the top and work your way down to the bottom.

Prep the set

Normally, an acrylic panel is used in studios to create a reflection effect. Alternatively, you can employ a bit of creativity to create the same effect.  In this case, you can use a similar glass to create an illusion of a reflection.

Turn the glass upside down under the main glass. This traditional technique will facilitate a black and white background without necessarily creating a horizon line that’s likely to be created by the base used to hold the object. You are likely to end up with a ghost reflection due to electrostatic.

Perfect the Lighting

Camera flashes, also known as speedlights, may be low in power compared to studio units but can still be used to capture stellar glass images. The best thing about them is that they are accessible.  For this, you will require white cardboard to be used as the background as well as a flash with a diffuser on either side of the glass. This will illuminate the background which will stimulate the use of a softbox in a simple manner.

Work with a large field if well-defined glass edges are to be created. If well done, the backside of the glass will also be visible. Ensure that you also use the highest sync speed with both your flash and camera combination in order to prevent the ambient light from creating a reflection as it may change the color temperature of your image.

The Black Background Set Up
Most people assume that glass photography in a black background setting is cumbersome. However, it is quite easy; as easy as making a cutout in a white cardboard to act as a window for a black background. Adding a white background behind the black background acts as a reflector which makes the defining lines around the glass more profound. The area behind the white cardboard should be plain black in order to prevent reflecting the light and puts more emphasis on the black color.

So, these are some of the most effective low budget techniques to take a glass photograph in a black and white background and also how to create the perfect bottom reflection of a glass. The fact that these can be achieved without the use of high-tech and other fancy gadgets makes these ideas ideal for amateurs who are looking to establish themselves as photographers.

Set Your Camera

The first thing that you should do is to adjust your camera’s white balance depending on its internal shooting menu. If you are not entirely sure of the kind of lighting to go for, opt for the auto white-balance option. The focus should be on either part of the glass object since the camera’s auto focusing system will need a specific subject to focus entirely on.
The ISO

It is important that you choose to shoot in manual mode since it will give you the power to shoot only when the light is well interpreted and when the camera records the images. Your aperture should be set to f/11 or higher, for instance, f/16 as you are likely to capture as more detail as possible this way.  The ISO should be set at its lowest so that it can capture most of the detail and guard against the unappealing grain that shows when ISO’s are set at their highest. In this case, an ISO of 64 in most full-frame Nikon cameras or an ISO of 100 in most canon cameras is perfectly fine.

image by danvojtech.

If using continuous light, choose the camera’s meter reading to direct the shutter speed. However, a shutter speed of 1 or 2 is ideal in this case since you blow out the background of a lit image if your glass is to be properly exposed. Sometimes, you’ll be required to test several shots and make slight adjustments to.   Your camera’s settings as well as the setup. This will enable you to capture your glass object in the best light.

Post Processing the Images

If well set, the backlight should be able to rule out any noticeable imperfections that should be on your glass object. If you happen to notice some smudges, spots or any other imperfection, edit them out. Thereafter, work on editing the background of the platform to white. These are some of the simple touch-ups that will see to it that the image of your glass turns out great.

Properly using a side-lighting technique will mean that the post-processing procedure required will be minimal. The product should be free from smudges or specks or dirt/dust. The background should be purely white and the hue of your product should be precise.  Edit out the defects that you missed before the shooting session, for instance, scuffs and hardware scratches.